Settlers of Catan

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Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan
Designer Klaus Teuber
Publisher Kosmos Flag of Germany
Mayfair Games Flag of the United KingdomFlag of the United States
Capcom Flag of Japan
999 Games Flag of the NetherlandsFlag of Belgium
Players 3 or 4 (standard)
2, 5, or 6 (with expansions)
Age range 10 years and up
Setup time approx. 10 minutes
Playing time 60 to 90 minutes
Random chance Medium
Skills required Resource management, Trading

Settlers of Catan is a multiplayer board game designed by Klaus Teuber. It was first published in 1995 in Germany by Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH & Co. (Kosmos) under the name Die Siedler von Catan.

Settlers was the first German-style board game to achieve popularity outside Europe, and has been called the "killer app" of designer board games.[1] Over 15 million games in the Catan series have been sold,[2] and the game has been translated into thirty languages from the original German.[2] The game has rapidly become popular in part because its mechanics are relatively simple, while its dynamics are quite complex.[3] The game is well suited for family play, since no one gets eliminated, and players who are behind can strive towards goals that are within their reach.

The standard game and its many expansions are available from Mayfair Games in the United States and United Kingdom, from Capcom in Japan, Kosmos and 999 Games in the European Union, Κάισσα in Greece (Οι άποικοι του Κατάν), Devir in Spain, Portugal and Latin America, and Strategy Games in Canada.


[edit] Gameplay

The players in the game represent the eponymous settlers, establishing a colony on the previously uninhabited island of Catan. The island itself is composed of hexagonal tiles ("hexes") of different land types which are laid out randomly at the beginning of each game. Numbered tokens are then placed on each of the tiles, except for one desert hex.[4]

Starting with two settlements and adjoining road sections, players build roads, settlements, and eventually cities as they settle the island. Roads are built along the edges of the hexes, and settlements at the corners; no two settlements may be built on adjacent corners. Positioning of roads and settlements allows a player to deny other players access to essential resources, and good building is one route to victory.[3]

Each turn, a roll of the two dice determines which hexes produce resources. Production of resources (clay, lumber, wool, grain, and ore) is the main random element in the game. Normally, players with settlements adjacent to those hexes receive resource cards of the appropriate type, with cities yielding more resources. However, if the dice roll is 7, the "robber" token must be moved to a different hex. This allows the player to prevent that hex from producing resources and to steal a resource card from another player.

The resource cards can be spent to build more roads or settlements, upgrade settlements to cities, and to obtain development cards for later use; or they can be stored for trade or later use. When a seven is rolled, players with eight or more stored resources lose half their stored resources, making the choice of whether to build or store resources a difficult one.

Players are allowed to trade among each other the resources they have produced, and to trade "off the island" for a hefty price. By building settlements in certain positions, players may obtain better off-island trading prices. Bad luck in the game can be mitigated by trading, and trading is the main method of player interaction in the game; astute trading is another route to victory.[3] If a player is winning, other players may refuse to trade with him or her; this allows them to catch up with the leader.

A game of giant Settlers of Catan being played Gen Con Indy 2003. This is one of many Settlers of Catan custom extra-large boards seen during demonstrations and tournaments at Gen Con.

A player receives a victory point for each settlement built, and another for each settlement upgraded to a city. Various other achievements, such as establishing the longest road or building the largest army, grant a player additional victory points. The victor is the first player to possess ten victory points on his or her turn.

There is no combat. Players may harm each other by moving the robber, refusing to trade, cutting off building routes, taking the "longest road" and "largest army" cards, and using certain development cards. The layout of the board and restrictions on building allow for a player to be boxed in through poor play or bad luck. Also, given the random component of the board layout, it is possible for a player to gain a monopoly on a certain resource, then demand steep trade rates from the other players. Home games generally take between one and two hours to complete.

Teuber's original design was for a large game of exploration and development in a new land.[5] Between 1993 and 1995 Teuber and Kosmos refined and simplified the game into its current form. Unused mechanics from that design went on to be used in Teuber's following games, Entdecker and Löwenherz. The game's first expansion, Seafarers of Catan, adds the concept of exploration, and the combined game (sometimes known as "New Shores") is probably the closest game to Teuber's original intentions.[1]

[edit] The Settlers of Catan series

The enduring popularity of Settlers of Catan has led to the creation of a great many spinoff games and products, starting in 1996 with the Settlers of Catan card game (later renamed to Catan Card Game), and including a novel, Die Siedler von Catan, by Rebecca Gablé (ISBN 3-431-03019-X) set on the island of Catan.

After releasing the card game, Teuber began to publish expansions for the base game. The first, Seafarers of Catan, was released in 1997; it was later retitled Catan: Seafarers. Seafarers adds ships which allow players to cross sea hexes, and includes scenarios in which players explore an archipelago of islands. It also adds gold-producing hexes which allow players to take the resource of their choice.

In 1998, the first historical scenario pack was released, which allows players to reenact the building of the pyramids of Egypt or the expansion of Alexander the Great's empire using Settlers game mechanics.

In 1999, expansions to allow fifth and sixth players were released for both Settlers and Seafarers. As well as extra components to accommodate more players, the expansions add an extra building phase to the turn, so that players can participate in the game during each others' turns.

The second large expansion to the game, Cities and Knights of Catan (later Catan: Cities and Knights), was released in 2000. It adds concepts from the card game and its first expansion to Settlers, including Knights who must be used to defend Catan from invading barbarians, and improvements which can be bought for cities which give benefits to players. A 5-6 player expansion for Cities and Knights was released at the same time. Also released in 2000 was a book of variations for Settlers

A second scenario pack for Settlers concerning the building of the Great Wall of China and the Trojan war was released in 2001, and in 2002 a travel edition of Settlers was published, featuring playing pieces which slot into a fixed-layout board. Atlantis: Scenarios and Variants was published in 2005. Atlantis is a boxed set which collected a number of scenarios and variants published in gaming magazines and at conventions, such as The Volcano and The Great River. The set also includes a deck of event cards which replace the dice in the main game, giving it a less random spread of resource production.

A deck of event cards which replaces the dice in the base game, released in 2005, won the 2007 Origins Award for Game Accessory of the Year.

The third large expansion, Traders & Barbarians was announced for release in 2007. It was released in 2008. Traders & Barbarians collects together a number of smaller scenarios, some of which have previously been published elsewhere. The set includes an official two-player variant.

Two special editions of the game were released in 2005: A collector's edition of the base game and Cities and Knights, with hand-painted 3D tiles and playing pieces; and a 10th anniversary edition with detailed plastic pieces.

Mayfair Games released a fourth edition of Settlers of Catan in 2007. Aside from one minor rule change, the only differences were new artwork, a locking frame, and an insert tray to hold the components. Soon after its release, two changes were made to the fourth edition. The "robber" playing piece was changed from a black to a grey color and the "soldier" development card was renamed a "knight". Fourth-edition versions of Cities & Knights, Seafarers, and the 5-6 player expansions were also released.[6]

[edit] Video games

Since the game's release, a number of computer games have been published based on Catan and its spinoffs. The first officially-sanctioned English-language release was Catan: The Computer Game developed for the PC by Castle Hill Studios and published by Big Fish Games[citation needed]. This off-line game is now available from MSN,[7] as it was acquired by Microsoft who also released Catan Online in August 2005 on MSN Games, the game now requiring an internet connection. The same game later became available on other online services. Teuber and Big Huge Games recently worked together to produce Catan, a version of Settlers for the Xbox Live Arcade. It was released on May 2, 2007.

An official Settlers of Catan online game was announced on Dec. 16, 2002.[8] Catan Online World allows players to download a Java application that serves as a portal for the online world and allows online play with other members. The original board game may be played for free, while expansions require a subscription membership.

There have also been several unauthorized video game implementations of Settlers. One of these unauthorized versions, called "Java Settlers", was developed by Robert S. Thomas as part of his Ph.D. research at Northwestern University. A paper describing the AI research involved was published in the Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces.[9] The source code for Thomas' Settlers of Catan implementation along with the AI code was released under the GNU General Public License.

[edit] Awards




[edit] References

[edit] External links

Preceded by
Spiel des Jahres
Succeeded by
El Grande

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